Bayer CropScience // Innovative products raise the quality of life – making it all the more important that they reach the customer efficiently. Bayer CropScience is finding new ways to strengthen and improve its distribution and marketing activities along the entire value chain – from seed to shelf.
The hand-picked broccoli florets from Mexican vegetable processor and exporter MarBran are a lush green color – just the way demanding consumers in Europe, North America and Japan like them. The vegetables are produced and processed in Mexico. More than 150 growers ensure a constant year-round supply.
At the MarBran processing plant at Jaral del Progreso in Guanajuato State, the delicate florets are carefully shaped by hand, then blanched and frozen. “Our business is based on meeting the highest quality standards, which is why we were immediately interested when Bayer CropScience explained to us how its food chain partnerships work,” says Fermín Vaca, Operations Manager at MarBran. “This project enables us to enhance our commitment to safety and quality throughout the production process.”
Food chain partnerships are part of the marketing and distribution concept with which Bayer CropScience supports the food industry around the world. The company’s aim is to provide targeted solutions “from seed to shelf” for its customers’ benefit. Bayer CropScience CEO Sandra E. Peterson describes this commitment as a core aspect of the company’s global strategy: “We’re resolved on setting new standards in customer-centricity to satisfy the rising demand for agricultural produce. Because we and our customers have a common goal: the sustainable production of abundant and nutritious food.”
Sandra E. Peterson, Chief Executive Officer of Bayer CropScience, on the subgroup’s strategy
Shaping our industry’s future together
The agricultural industry is at the center of unprecedented and highly complex global challenges. Markets and prices are more unpredictable than ever, new technologies are opening up new possibilities, regulations are increasing in complexity, and normal weather fluctuations are being exacerbated by the extreme effects of climate change. At the same time, the world’s population is increasing, and with it the demand for food and renewable raw materials. But arable land is limited, and millions of people are still going hungry.
Our mission at Bayer CropScience is to develop solutions for this hungry planet – by smartly deploying our resources, sharpening the market focus of our portfolio, better understanding our customers’ needs and fully exploiting our innovative potential in both chemistry and biology. But no one is going to solve the great global challenges single-handedly. It will take a detailed understanding of the issues along the entire value chain with scientific expertise and entrepreneurial skills – and the ability to join with others in driving the development of this immensely exciting industry. And it’s precisely in those areas that the true strength of our company lies.
As part of the collaboration with its food chain partner MarBran, Bayer has created a sustainability package focused on providing training for farmers and technicians. Subjects covered by this training include the efficient and environmentally compatible use of crop protection products, user safety, and compliance with prescribed maximum residue levels – a condition for selling produce on the world market. Operations Manager Vaca values this commitment: “We’re among the world’s largest processors of broccoli. The support we receive from Bayer CropScience is helping things to stay that way.”
Top-quality broccoli: at vegetable processor MarBran in Mexico, small stalks are cut out by hand and discarded.
For MarBran’s contract growers, too, the food chain partnership means added financial security. One of them is José Uribe Estrada, owner of the 50-hectare Sanabria farm in Valle de Santiago: “The training and, above all, the continuous support provided by the experts from Bayer CropScience – such as their assistance with calibrating the equipment used to apply crop protection products – help us to operate efficiently and achieve the required quality,” he says. “And that’s essential for working successfully with MarBran.”
There are about 240 food chain partnerships worldwide for virtually all major fruit and vegetable crops, including citrus fruits, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and melons. “Our customers are the farmers as partners in the food value chain,” explains Dr. Birgitt Walz-Tylla, Head of Food Chain Management. “In these collaborations Bayer CropScience offers its customers – according to their needs – high-quality seed, effective crop protection, and expertise in environmental protection, efficiency and safety, generating value for all partners – from farmers to food retailers.”
» Bayer CropScience offers its customers high-quality seed, effective crop protection, and expertise in environmental protection, efficiency and safety, generating value for all partners. «
Dr. Birgitt Walz-Tylla, Head Of Food Chain Management
As part of its commitment to increased customer-centricity, Bayer CropScience is moving in surprising new directions – in cotton, for example.
A loft in the trendy Flatiron district of Manhattan, home of the New York creative scene. Here is the headquarters of Olah, Inc., a global marketer of high-quality apparel. In rooms bathed in light, fashion buyers assemble to be inspired by the look, feel and colors of the textiles. From here, talks are held with spinning and cloth mills about implementing new design ideas. And it was here that the final details of the Certified FiberMax™ and Authentic Stoneville™ cotton apparel branding concept were worked out between Bayer CropScience and Olah.
Experts discuss the quality of denim fabrics in New York. zoom in
Bayer cotton expert Monty Christian (right) and Olah CEO Andrew Olah (center) discuss the quality of denim fabrics in New York.
The Certified FiberMax™ and Authentic Stoneville™ cotton branding initiative is unique in the industry: it is the first time that upland cotton fiber has been marketed for its unique quality characteristics that meet the requirements of producers, spinning mills, textile designers and consumers. And this branding achieves another first, because a direct link can now be made between the producer and the finished product. The idea is for the customer to be able to trace the cotton used for, say, a pair of denim jeans or a t-shirt right back to the farmer.
Bayer CropScience’s global food chain partnership program involves 240 projects in 30 countries and includes 40 different fruit and vegetable crops.
“This is a fresh, creative, and above all a paradigm-changing concept,” says Olah managing director Robert Antoshak. “Buyers can come here and see for themselves the high-quality appearance and feel of FiberMax™ and Stoneville™ textiles, and then incorporate these high-quality fabrics into their product lines. They’re buying an excellent product, gaining a unique marketing angle and also getting a certification program that documents the transparency and sustainability of the growing conditions. It’s a combination that’s simply unbeatable.”
Another key component of this seed-to-shelf approach involves engaging with global spinning mills who recognize the value of Certified FiberMax™ and Authentic Stoneville™ fiber. One of these is Texhong Ltd. in Shanghai, which is among the largest suppliers of cotton fabrics and has Olah among its customers. Chief designer Pete Guo is an admitted fan of FiberMax™: “The fibers are exceptionally uniform. That means less waste and fewer breaks in production, which are particularly costly in spinning mills.”
Win-win situation for all concerned
“We supply high-quality branded cotton lint with a certification covering the entire value chain – from the field to the fashion label. In this way we create transparency and generate additional market opportunities for Certified FiberMax™ and Authentic Stoneville™ cotton,” says Monty Christian, who is responsible for Bayer’s cotton seed and fiber business in the United States. “The farmer benefits in different ways: through the high yields, excellent performance and unique fiber quality of our FiberMax™ and Stoneville™ varieties in the field, and via high demand and market access we’ve created for our cottonseed customers. This initiative is designed to be a win-win situation at every step in the value chain.”
Farmers inspect the growth of soybean plants in southeastern Brazil. zoom in
Farmer Theodorus Sanders (right) and Baltazar Fernandes inspect the growth of soybean plants in southeastern Brazil.
Customer-centricity at Bayer CropScience even goes a step further: in Brazil, for example, the company supports farmers with financing concepts at the start of the season. This system involves a forward bartering arrangement. As payment for highly effective crop protection products, the farmer forward-sells a certain proportion of the next harvest to Bayer CropScience. Theodorus Sanders benefits from the arrangement, too. He grows soybeans and wheat on a total of 9,500 hectares in Unaí and Chapada Gaúcha in southeastern Brazil. “The price is determined at the start of the season,” says Sanders. “That means I can plan ahead and don’t need to worry about sudden price fluctuations.” And he values another advantage of the system: “I don’t have to sell the surplus harvest immediately to repay capital, but can put it in storage until prices go up again in the off-season.”
“We’re building networks from which everyone benefits,” says Bayer CropScience CEO Peterson, summarizing the various components of the marketing strategy. “In this way we’re helping to ensure the supply of agricultural raw materials to a growing global population. At the same time, our sustainable concepts are combining economic operation with environmental and social compatibility and thus playing a part in safeguarding the livelihoods of future generations.”